top of page

This Is Why We Need Female Role Models

"Women are more ambitious than ever, and workplace flexibility is fueling them. Yet despite some hard-fought gains, women’s representation is not keeping pace.”

Mckinsey and Company (2023)

Female representation in a diverse range of roles and sectors shows women that these positions are not only available for them but also attainable. This is crucial for gender diversity and parity in the workplace since previously unconscious biases and structures around gender can be questioned, challenged, and changed. The reality, however, is that with a small percentage of female leaders across industries, when young professionals begin their careers, they build a limited idea of what is needed to grow professionally or become a leader. That is why being surrounded and exposed to female leaders and role models can help rebuild these perceptions and inspire women to achieve their full potential and aspire for their dream roles.

A 2022 study from LinkedIn in the UK showed that 43% of women believe their success would be higher if they had a role model in the workplace, “with 57% believing that having a relatable role model is crucial to achieving career success and 70% agreeing it’s easier to be like someone you can see.”

“I began to see a recurring theme – women’s progress seemed hindered by the glaring absence of sufficient role models whose journeys they could follow, draw inspiration from, and most importantly, relate to on a personal level.”

Mila Smart Semeshkina, Founder of the Women's Empowerment Council

An InHerSight study from 2021 also revealed that 84% of women say it’s important for them to see women filling leadership roles where they work. Moreover, 78% of women care about being exposed to women performing the same work as them.

So, why are female role models so important?

  1. Representation = Normalisation: “It matters seeing women in those roles because then you know it’s achievable, and it gives you a reason to stay," said Lisa Smith, Director of the Raleigh/Durham chapter of Women Who Code. A woman's ability to see herself in a leadership or managerial role is influenced by whether other women also hold these positions.

  2. Commonalities help inspiration: When you witness a woman whose journey resonates with yours, or the one you wish for yourself, it can motivate and empower you to more easily follow the same path, as you don't feel like you are on your own.

  3. Shifting mindsets: role models essentially offer alternative and more positive ways of looking at who you are, what you want to achieve professionally, and how you can accomplish your career goals.

  4. Validating diverse career paths that challenge the status quo: by showcasing different trajectories and unconventional (but successful) career journeys, role models encourage other women to embrace their unique journeys without feeling pressured to conform to traditional norms.

  5. Encouraging healthy risk-taking: Female representation can inspire other women to take risks and pursue ambitious goals. When they see women overcoming obstacles and embracing challenges, it inspires them to be brave and resilient.

  6. Role models help build self-confidence and motivate positive individual and societal changes.

"Inspiration can be particularly important for women's empowerment because it can help to overcome barriers and challenges that may be faced in pursuing education and success."

Mila Smart Semeshkina, Founder of the Women's Empowerment Council

And how can you be a role model?

  1. Teach and empower girls and women to speak confidently: It's not only what you say, but also how you say it. By showing other women confidence and self-assurance when speaking, you show the strength and credibility of your statements. You can do this by reminding other women to avoid supporting their opinions with disclaimers or apologies that can undermine its power (e.g., "I'm not sure", "Kind of").

  2. Guide girls and women on how to navigate and overcome conflict: By modeling honest and open communication, as well as healthy conflict resolution strategies, women can build their resilience to change and hardship, and be comfortable approaching conflict upfront, without any shortcuts.

  3. Encourage confidence and ownership: When confident in their potential, women are more likely to take on leadership roles. By being grateful when receiving compliments and not deflecting or undermining them, girls and women can build on their self-worth and own their success more openly. Also, actively look for opportunities to celebrate women's success and acknowledge their strengths.

  4. Inspire healthy risk-taking: Girls often struggle with confidence and fear failure, which makes them less prone to taking risks, even in adulthood. To change this, talk about times when you stepped out of your comfort zone and how that was positive for your development as a professional. It's all about having the opportunity to learn and grow from a new experience.

  5. Raise awareness of current positive examples and celebrate female leadership: Share examples of your own experiences as a leader and talk about female leaders and role models in your life, work, and around the world. Make it clear for girls and women that being confident and assertive are assets and skills of a natural leader and traits to be applauded for. Also, show that being a leader sets out a range of benefits and positive opportunities for career women everywhere.

In the end, part of the progress asks for systemic changes. When little girls are exposed to female leaders and role models from different fields, they can expand their aspirations and mindsets toward what roles they can and want to pursue and achieve. This is why women should be given the opportunities to reach their dream positions and help pay it forward to other career women and little girls everywhere - motivating them to fight for what they want and deserve.

Who is your role model?

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page